In the '90s, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, the duo that groomed him in the art of composing for films, declared him as the "last of the originals." And with good reason too. In the hegemony that L-P (as the duo was called), Kalyanji-Anandji and R.D.Burman enjoyed in the second half of the '70s, it was Rajesh Roshan (this son of legendary composer Roshan) who challenged it successfully.
If he took away Mehmood's banner from R.D.Burman with his own 1974 debut Kunwara Baap, he even uprooted Laxmikant-Pyarelal for a while from Prasad Productions and Kalyanji-Anandji from the then-successful filmmaker Rakesh Kumar. Never had a debut composer hit the Binaca Geet Mala Annual top slot, which Roshan did with his very first recorded song, Mohammed Rafi's 'Saj Rahi Gali Meri Maa'. Never till then had any composer won a major Best Music award or sold a Gold Disc with his career's second film, Julie, which also contained Hindi cinema's first fully English song recorded and filmed like a Hindi number, the perennial 'My Heart Is Beating'. In the first six years of his career, Roshan also worked with other illustrious filmmaking names like B.Nagi Reddi and Basu Chatterjee with whom he was to have long associations, but also Mohan Segal, Ravi Tandon, Yash Chopra, Ravi Chopra, Raj Sippy, Dev Anand, Subhash Ghai and also the home productions of his brother Rakesh Roshan, Hema Malini and Dharmendra. Among his later professionally rewarding associations was his liaison with Mahesh Bhatt in films like Kaash, Daddy, Jurm, Papa Kehte Hain and Dastak, all commercially unsuccessful films with hit music!
Roshan's cavalcade of hit scores and songs included Swami, Priyatama, Inkaar, Khatta Meetha, Des Pardes, Mr Natwarlal, Kaala Patthar, Aap Ke Deewane and more. Later were to come Yaarana, Khuddaar, Kaamchor, Jaag Utha Insan, Aakhir Kyon?, Khudgarz, Khoon Bhari Maang, Karan Arjun, Papa Kehte Hain, Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, Koi…Mil Gaya, Krrish and Kites (2010). From the early millennium, Roshan reduced his output, concentrating essentially on his brother's films while occasionally coming up with a winner in Aetbaar, whose music went unnoticed after the Amitabh Bachchan film bombed.
Roshan has composed a slew of hit tracks for Bachchan, and introduced him as a singer in 'Mere Paas Aao' in Mr Natwarlal besides using his vocals beautifully in 'Jeena Hai Kis Liye' in Aetbaar, and he recalls the way the mega-star trusted him when he found it tough to enact the disco song 'Saara Zamana' from Yaarana. "They were shooting in Kolkata and he wanted me to re-record the song with a slower tempo. I asked him to trust my judgment that the song would work big time as it was, and he respected it and admitted that I was right when the song became a big hit!"
"Yes, I am only working on Krrish 3, and have signed Saawan Kumar's comedy Baniye Ki Mooch, whose lyrics he will write after the songs he wrote for Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai," smiles the affable composer, who looks much younger than his age. The music room is brightly lit, and is decked (pun intended) with state-of-the-art paraphernalia, for this is where Roshan creates and even records the basic tracks from which the final song takes shape. "With the complete liberty that I get with my brother in his films, and the musical standards achieved, I find it not only tough but unnecessary to work in compromised setups."
He provides an example. "A well-known corporate was making this comedy with one of the hottest directors in this genre four years ago. The director loved the tunes I made in the sittings, but asked for them within two days. How could I achieve such fast stuff with quality?" asks the composer of songs like 'Aao Manaaye Jashn-E-Mohabbat' (Doosara Aadmi), 'Mungda' (Inkaar), 'Pardesiya Yeh Sach Hai Piya' (Mr Natwarlal), 'Jab Chhaye Mera Jadoo' (Lootmaar), 'Ek Andhera Lakh Sitarein' (Aakhir Kyon?), 'Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye' (Jurm) and the song without which no Talat Aziz concert is complete, 'Aaina Mujhse Meri Pehli Si Soorat Maange' (Daddy) . That comedy, needless to say, went to someone else – and bombed.
Krrish 3, adds the composer, will have a fresh Roshan at the helm. "For the first time, I completed learning programming on Logic. The heart of a song is now my domain as I am not dependent on a programmer. I think that you will like my music and so will everyone. At Filmkraft, I am the clear head of the music department who approves the final mix. My songs have been sung by Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam, KK, Neeraj Shridhar and Monali Thakur. The lyrics are by Sameer."
Why is he working with a single lyricist again as most of Filmkraft's movies after Indeewar's exit have been with two or three smaller names? "I think that I needed a change. Sameer-ji is a wonderful human being and I have known him since he would accompany his father Anjaan-saab to recordings in the many films we did together, like Yaarana. He is also very good at his work – we have worked together in the '90s and I guess that the small lyricists should also know the difference between working with me and others," he says on a lighter note.
A regret he will always have is not working much with Rafi and Mukesh, as Kishore was very saleable then and distributors and producers would want him, and Mukesh also passed away in 1976, barely three years after he started working independently. "Mukesh-ji and Rafi-saab had very long associations with my father. But I take consolation in the fact that all the songs I made for Mukesh-ji and most of my Rafi songs were not only huge hits but are recalled even today, like 'Hum Dono Milke' (Mukesh-Asha) from Tumhari Kasam and so many Rafi songs like 'Mujhe Chhoo Rahi Hai' with Lata-ji in Swayamvar."
What does he think of today's music? "The sound has improved. The hit songs sound great when we listen to them, but six months down the line, I do not feel like listening to them," he says. "This can only mean two things: one, that too many shortcuts are taken, and two, that there is too much interference in a music director's work. There is so much talk about films making 100 crore and more, but how many of these films have memorable music? Bombarding the songs in the media is not the answer. Music has to be created with a lot of love and patience."